Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen at the UN General Assembly meeting on the situation in Syria, March 30

31.03.2021 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

We have to be honest. We, the international community, have let the Syrian people down. We have not been able to stop the war. We have not been able to prevent the use of chemical weapons. We have not been able to stop mass murder, torture and forced disappearances. We have not been able to implement our own decisions, such as Security Council Resolution 2254, which calls for a political solution and the establishment of a credible, inclusive and non-sectarian government. We have not been able to ensure unimpeded access for humanitarian aid, we still have tens of thousands of arbitrarily detained persons, particularly women and children, and people have disappeared. We hardly have any accountability.

Mr. President,

Thank you for convening this meeting. You asked us to keep in mind the testimonies of the civil society briefers at the session here in the General Assembly earlier this month. We are certainly doing that. I also would like to thank you personally for making the effort to personally go to the Syrian border and look at the situation there. By going there, you are sending the message that we won’t let the Syrian people down.

Mr. President,

My Canadian colleague just referred to the cross-border mechanism that is up for renewal in July. I would appeal to Russia and China to not cast another veto, but rather allow the UN crossing points to stay in place or reopen. Let's not let down the suffering people of Syria again.

I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his strong statement, clearly saying that the closing of Al-Ya'rubiyah made the situation worse. I plead for the re-authorization of one and the re-opening of two border crossing points which allow the aid to come into the Northwest and the Northeast to help the people that are in need.

We have had five rounds of the Constitutional Committee and there is still no result. The Assad regime is going in the direction of sham presidential elections. I would plead to Russia, the primary supporter of the Assad regime, to put pressure on the regime. Instead of providing weapons to the Syrian armed forces, they should push the Syrian regime to seriously engage in the political process and the constitutional committee towards a political solution. Instead of bombing hospitals in Syria, Russia should send humanitarian aid. Instead of covering up the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, Russia should participate in bringing the perpetrators of war crimes to justice. Those that have committed heinous crimes in Syria must be held to account.

At a court in Koblenz, Germany, the first perpetrators of crimes in connection with torture in Syrian regime prisons are already being tried and one has already been convicted. When you read the statements of the witnesses, you learn about the extent of torture and of mass killings committed by the Assad regime. Yesterday I met with a group from the Syrian Women's Political Movement. They are all very brave women dispersed around the world who have lost loved ones. All of them are desperate about the situation of women in the country, which are the primary victims of the atrocities. They won't give up. They want to come back, but they all very clearly see that justice and accountability are the key to national reconciliation and sustainable peace.

Mr. President,

Let me end by turning to today’s Conference “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” in Brussels. Germany has pledged a record-breaking 1.738 billion euro which is more than two billion dollars, our highest pledge in the last four years, to support the Syrian people. We appeal to others to also maintain or increase their support.

Mr. President,

In 2015, Germany opened its borders to Syrian refugees. We are hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in my country. I would like to end with the message that we won't let the Syrian people down.


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